Keep Hands Warm in Winter with Poor Circulation


Girl with ear muffsAre your hands always cold, no matter what you do to keep them warm? Have you tried the fanciest gloves on the market, only to be disappointed? You’re not alone.  Millions of people suffer from poor circulation and it can be downright frustrating and dangerous.  Chronically cold hands can lead to frostbite and hypothermia- both very serious medical conditions you want to avoid at all costs.  There are varying degrees of frostbite, from superficial to deep tissue wounds affecting your muscles and bones.

If you have poor circulation, you know more than anyone else how important it is to keep your fingers and hands warm.  In some cases, this may mean skipping out on the fun all together.  You may avoid outdoor activities when the temperature dips below 30 degrees for fear of freezing hands.  This can be tough if you live in a climate where winter takes hold for four to five months of the year.  While staying inside will protect you from frostbite, you’re bound to come down with a serious case of cabin fever! With a few simple steps, you can keep your hands warm with poor circulation! Let’s get started!

Improve Circulation

Increase CirculationBefore we get into gear designed to keep your hands warm, let’s take a look at ways you can improve the blood flow in your body.  Our bodies contain thousands of blood vessels and miles of veins and major arteries.  Our blood, keeps our body warm- at that nice 98.6 degrees, where our vital organs thrive and function the way they are supposed to. Sometimes, however, our warm blood has a difficult time navigating through our body, that’s referred to as poor circulation.  I’m not a doctor, but there are certain medical conditions that can cause poor circulation.

Before taking my advice, check with your doctor to make sure you are not suffering from an underlying medical condition! The more freely our warm blood moves throughout our body, the warmer your hands, fingers and feet.  Restrict that circulation and you are having flashbacks of Jack Nicholson in the Shining- but without all the scary parts! I digress.

Vitamin K

Vitamin K works wonders when it comes to helping people suffering from poor circulation. According to medical experts, vitamin k has properties known to increase circulation.  Food rich in vitamin K are known to help widen blood vessels and keep blood moving fast and furious!  Some doctors recommend eating leafy greens, dairy products or taking a supplement to increase your vitamin k intake.  Unless you’re an amazing chef, I highly doubt you are packing brussels sprouts and spinach on your next outdoor adventure.

Oh, you are a chef? Never mind.  Seriously though, you should try to incorporate foods rich in vitamin k in your diet all year.  Don’t just eat healthy right before an outdoor winter excursion! If you make circulation a top priority every day, you may just have warmer hands all the time! A supplement is also an easy way to support your circulatory system- plus you can take it with you no matter what mountain or river you’re exploring!

Bust A Move!

Winter DancingWho doesn’t love an impromptu dance party at the summit of a mountain? You made it! There’s so much to celebrate.  If you suffer from poor circulation, getting your body moving is a great way to keep your hands warm.  You can dance, hike, do fifty jumping jacks, even spirit fingers will work.

Whatever you do, make sure you get your heart rate up! Exercise gets your heart pumping and gets all that warm blood where it needs to go even quicker! So, the next time your fingers are feeling a little chilly, drop and give me twenty! But since you can’t stay moving all the time you might want to read our article entitled “Keep Your Hands Warm In Winter While Resting“.

Gloves

Gloves are your best defense against keeping your body heat close to your hands and keeping the harsh winter weather at bay.  How the glove fits will determine how warm or chilly your hands feel.  If your gloves are too big, all that body heat can escape pretty quickly.  On the flip side, if your gloves are too small, you’ll risk reducing circulation to your hands.  The perfect pair of gloves should leave you with a little wiggle room at the tips of your fingers- that’s it!  Please also see our article entitled “What Are The Best Brands For Warm Winter Gloves?”

Glove Liners

Wool Glove Liners

If you suffer from poor circulation, a pair of glove liners will work wonders for you!  Glove liners are designed to fit snug against your hand, to keep a layer of warm air close to your skin.  Liners also wick away moisture.  I’m sure you’ve heard me say this before, but it’s worth repeating: staying warm is all about staying dry! A glove liner will keep your hands dry if you ever become overheated.  If your hands ever become wet, you will notice you start to lose body heat pretty quickly.

You want to prevent this at all costs!  Stay away from cotton as it can soak up water like a sponge.  Instead, look for a glove liner made out of merino wool or a synthetic blend.  Nylon, Lycra and polyester are all great choices for synthetic materials.  Wool is my top pick! Merino wool is soft, cozy, great at moisture management and has incredible insulating properties.  Once you find a glove line you like, try it on with your outer gloves.  You want to make sure your fingers aren’t too snug with both layers of gloves on!

Mittens

Hestra Gloves

When shopping for gloves, you’ll notice you have a couple different styles to choose from: mitten, gloves and a hybrid of the two.  Where do you begin? Honestly, if you’re buying a good brand, you’re going to be warm! With that said, it really comes down to personal preference.  On chilly days, I find myself gravitating to my nice pair of down mittens.  I like the idea of having my hand and fingers in all one compartment, sharing body heat!

I find my hands stay warmer when I wear mittens versus gloves. Again, it’s a matter of personal preference and what you’re going to be doing outside.  A mitten may not work if you are ice climbing, where dexterity takes center stage.  However, a mitten might be the best choice if you are braving a chilly fall day to watch your college football team win for the second time that season!

Insulated Gloves

Fortress Glove Pro

If you’re not smitten for mittens, opt for a glove with optimal insulation.  There are plenty of high quality gloves on the market today that will keep your hands warm!  If you’re still on the fence, choose a hybrid lobster mitten. Yep, the name says it all.  Think of a lobster claw… that’s what this glove, errrr mitten looks like! The idea is to keep three of your fingers in one space, with your pointer finger and thumb in another cozy compartment.

By separating the fingers slightly, you still have all the warmth of a mitten, and you get the dexterity a glove offers- all in one! Like most gloves, lobster mittens are breathable and waterproof.  This means your hands won’t get wet with sweat or from the blizzard your about to encounter.  I checked the forecast- it’s on the way! Quick grab your mittens and head for shelter!

What’s Inside Matters

The style of your glove makes a difference in how warm or cold your fingers will feel! But, did you know what inside your gloves plays a big role in keeping your hands warms- especially if you suffer from poor circulation? It sure does.  Let’s take a look at the different options you have when it comes to glove insulation.  You basically have two options: down fill and synthetic fill.  Hands down, down packs a punch to the cold weather and keeps your hands nice and toasty! Down is lightweight and has incredible insulation properties.

The more down in a glove, the warmer your hands will be! If you suffer from poor circulation, a down filled glove may be your best choice. However, down will let you down if your gloves get wet.  While most gloves are coated with waterproof and windproof materials, sometimes the unforeseen happens and your three feet deep in a snow berm.  Down tends to lose its warmth when it gets wet and it takes a long time to dry out.  This is why I always carry two pairs of gloves- just in case something happens and my gloves get soaked.

Synthetic fill is also a great option if you’re looking for a glove that will keep you warm and is a slightly more budget friendly.  Synthetic gloves tend to be a bit bulkier, but they are excellent for keeping hands warm on the coldest of days.  Plus, synthetic filled gloves hold up and keep you warm regardless of the weather.  You can be skiing in hail and your hands won’t get wet if your wearing a pair of synthetic gloves.  Be warned though, synthetic filled gloves won’t keep you warm and dry if you attempt that epic jump off chair three at your favorite ski area!

Waterproof Gloves

Fortress Arctic Extreme Mitten

No matter what style or fill you go with, make sure your gloves are waterproof.  Remember, the best way to keep your hands warm is to keep them dry! While most winter gloves are waterproof, you want to double check before purchasing. Things to look for: Gortex and durable water repellent (DWR).  These key words will indicate the fabric is waterproof and keep the weather from penetrating through the layers of insulation and into your gloves!

Protect Your Wrists

Wool Wrist Warmers

No matter how waterproof your gloves, if you don’t protect your wrists the chilly weather is bound to creep inside and take hold! In fact, according to some outdoor experts, gloves will almost always get wet from the inside out! This is why it’s so important to keep your wrists covered.  We also lose a lot of body heart from our wrists, so protecting your wrists will keep your hands warmer too! There are a couple ways to keep your wrists covered: thumb hole shirts/coats and gloves with cinches.

I personally like to use a combination of thumb holes and cinches to keep my hands warm.  Thumb holes keep your base layer or coat in place, over your wrists for all day protection.  Pair that with cinched gloves and there’s no way the cold is creeping in! You can now purchase gloves with varying lengths, so you can even protect your forearm- if necessary.  Keep those gloves cinched and you should be able to keep your hands warm- even if you suffer from poor circulation.

Hand Warmers

Hand Warmers

If you have all the layers on, your wrists are covered and you’re still cold- grab a couple hand warmers! Hand warmers are non-toxic, easy to use and provide the burst of heat you need, right where you need it.  You can put the hand warmers directly inside your gloves or some mittens have special zipper pockets specifically for the packets! How cool is that? I mean…..how warm is that? I personally like to have the hand warmers right inside my glove or mitten.  I find my hands warm up quicker when the packets are right next to my skin.

Hand warmers are inexpensive and easy to pack, so you should always have a few in your pocket or pack in case of an emergency.  The downside to disposable hand warmers is that they only last a few hours and then your hands are cold again. If you want a hand warmer that lasts all day, look into the rechargeable kind.  Rechargeable hand warmers are bit more expensive- but they work really well. In fact, rechargeable hand warmers will provide a constant flow of heat for up to 8 hours, depending on the setting.  This is a great way to add extra heat if you have poor circulation!

If you suffer from poor circulation, you don’t have to miss out on all the winter time fun! By choosing the right gear and making a few dietary changes, you too can hike to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro.  Okay, well it may take more than the right gear to get there, but you get the idea! How do you keep your hands warm on bitter cold days? I’d love for you to share your ideas too!

Heated Gloves

Heated Gloves

If you are sitting inside your tent, resting after a big day on the mountain you may want to throw on a pair of heated gloves for extra warmth.  Heated gloves tend to have tiny wires running through the fabric of the glove, designed to give you constant heat in every nook and cranny of your hands and fingers.  Heated gloves tend to be a bit bulky and on the expensive side- but, they could mean the difference between frostbite and just frigid fingers.

Heated gloves also run off battery power.  This battery pack is typically in the wristband of the gloves, making it easy to access and change the batteries when needed.  If you’re going to be in the woods for a couple days, a pair of heated gloves might be a good choice to keep Jack Frost from tagging along!

Wear Layers Head to Toe

Base Layers

What good are those fancy gloves if you’re not wearing a hat and your boots are letting every drop of water inside?  By wearing the appropriate layers, from head to toe, you will be warmer everywhere, including your hands.  IF you need a crash course on layering basics, check out my other blog post here.  Keeping your head and ears covered will keep you body heat from escaping.  When you’re sitting still, you need all your heat, especially if you aren’t moving for a while.  Wearing a well-insulated hat will keep a cap on your body heat.  Don’t forget to cover your neck and ears too- those areas are typically neglected and exposed to the cold weather!

My blog post here will help point you in the right direction for the best hat brands to choose from! Cover up and you’ll notice a difference in how you feel! Also, make sure you are wearing high quality moisture wicking socks.  Your socks should be made out of merino wool or a synthetic blend.   Your boots should also be waterproof with plenty of trend and protection from the cold ground.  By applying the basic layering techniques to every part of your body, you will keep your hands warm- no matter what you are doing.

If all else fails and your hands are still cold, get inside and warm up! If you’re camping, climb inside your tent away from the wind and weather and bundle up in your down sleeping bag.  If you can, get to a permanent structure and get close to a fireplace (not too close) and warm up those hands and fingers. It’s easier to get warm than it is to stay warm- so be prepared with the right gear and you’ll never have to worry about cold hands again!

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